How to select a drum kit for a recording session

In this first part of a series of blogs I discuss the process involved in how and why I selected the drum kit to be used for a recording session.

I will be open and honest about all of the aspects and issues of this particular studio session and my overall experience of being called upon for session work as I feel it may be of some use to fellow musicians who find themselves being called upon or who are already in the studio environment.

Firstly, I would like to say thank you to The Coaltown Daisies for asking me to drum on their second album.  I find myself in a really fortunate position to be considered as drummer for this album and also being able to choose drums from a collection of drums I’ve hoarded throughout my career.

I had envisaged using my vintage aquamarine sparkle drum kit which I had played on the artists first album back in 2013 (recording studio) and had the kit set up in my music room at home.   After receiving the tracks from the artist I set about rehearsing with that drum kit but as time went on I felt that there was just something not quite right with the kit – something about the kit was not hitting the mark for me whilst rehearsing the songs.

Vintage Premier Aquamarine Sparkle Drum Kit

I tried a few different things to change the sound and feel of the kit such as using calf skin heads on the toms, thinking it would offer a nice tonal difference to the previous recordings.  Several types of bass drum heads, mufflers, snare drums and other gadgets started appearing in the music room but the unknown element missing from the sound of the kit was becoming increasingly frustrating.

I had recently acquired a black marine pearl Premier vintage drum kit which I was using in my tuition room and decided to remove the silencing pads and tune it up and as I played this kit more and more it just felt great and sounded fantastic.  I swapped out the aquamarine kit for the black marine pearl kit, which has a larger bass drum and floor tom and replaced the heads with Remo ambassadors.

The matching snare drum for the kit needed a reskin also so I went with what I knew best for these Royal Ace snare drums and that was an Aquarian Modern Vintage head.  This snare drum and head combination provides a focused snap in the centre of the drum and a warm overtone as it’s played towards the outer circumference.

This was definitely the kit for the album so I took it home and swapped it for another vintage kit to be used in the studio whilst the aquamarine kit went into storage until it is needed again. Getting the black marine pearl kit home and set up in our music room seemed to re-ignite a flame in me which helped motivate me to both practice and have fun on the drums. The sound of the drums was of such quality that I felt confident in the overall sound I was producing as I played which in turn boosted my creativity and experimentation in music.

Vintage Premier Black Marine Pearl Drum Kit at the Recording Studio in 2018

The set up was simple with four drums and four cymbals. This newfound ‘simple and quality’ approach began to have an effect on my work ethic, which in turn felt like it began to light up and energise my performance for the tracks during the rehearsals.

Drummers View of the studio set up 2018

In the next part of this blog I’ll chat about my rehearsal process for the album. All the challenges and how we managed to overcome them.

Thank you for reading my blog – feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions regarding drumming!

Drum Practice Makes Progress – An Introduction

Drum Practice Makes Progress - Scott Burrell Drums Drummers Drumming

Practice does not make perfect – this idiom makes for what may be an unrealistic goal.  Get the most out of your drum practice by changing your approach:

Practice Makes Progress

Changing one crucial word for a more pro-active word can make a huge difference to the approach and attitude of drummers towards practising.

This is the first in a series of blogs which aims to discuss the various issues regarding practice.  This blog aims to introduce and discuss some of the issues faced by drummers when it comes to practising.

It can be challenging to carry out a ‘successful’ drum practice session. This may be down to a number of factors both singularly and together; lack of motivation, not setting realistic goals for the session or just not having time – distractions can sometimes get in the way of your drum practice and motivation may be adversely affected.

Over my experience as both a drummer and a tutor, I have often encountered what I call ‘The Troublesome Trio’ – the three most common excuses drummers use for not putting in the time and energy needed to effectively progress.

‘I don’t know / can’t remember what I need to practice…’

‘I haven’t had time to practice…’

‘I find it difficult to practice and end up playing along to songs I like…’

I understand that due to the vastness of material, studies, books and concepts in drumming, it is impossible to practice every aspect of drumming in one session – but it is important to practice what aspects you feel need the most attention.

To really observe your strengths and weaknesses and take action to progress is key to both setting goals and working to success.  A good tutor will assist you in analysing your needs and setting goals for your drum practice sessions.  I would suggest writing out your goals to help make them more tangible and also to enable you to look back at a later date.

As a general rule and for the purposes of this introductory blog, I would recommend firstly to set time aside for drum practice – Commit to it and make sure you divide your time into three equal chunks:

  1. Start your drum practice with a warm up session which should consist of rudimentary and numeric exercises firstly to waken up the hands, feet and mind.
  2. Now you’re warmed up it’s time to get stuck in to material you don’t know – the challenges you currently face may be tough at first but always remember: The more you practice – the stronger you will become
  3. After challenging yourself, finish off by playing material you do know and love to play – be it your favourite song/band/solo – it is healthy to finish up on a positive note which can help with motivating yourself for the next session.

What you may find in time is that the challenges in section two will gradually start entering section three and may even become your warm up!

Remember it is OK to sound rough when you are practising – Practice Makes Progess

Stay tuned for more in-depth material regarding the art of practising!

Thanks for reading – have a great drum practice!